The High Middle Ages
1. The renewal began at the monastery of Cluny in the 900s was slowly dislodging the Church from the feudal system, whereby bishops and abbots did the bidding of secular lords and kings. The papacy had suffered mightly from being at the whim of Roman nobles. The pope was hardly an independent spiritual leader at that point.
2. Powerful sorces were reshaping the west creating a European world that would look quite different from the relatively disorganized, lawless world of feudal Eurpope's Dark Ages. The Church had a key role in shaping that world.
A New World in the Makings:
Cities and Powerful Kings
1. Two features emerginging in Europe were the growth of cities and the increasing power of kings.
Urban Culture on the Rise
2. Ever since the old Roman Empire collapsed under the assault of the barbarians, the civilization we recognize as the Wester Europe had been basically rural.
The region had few cities and towns, little significant trade and only poor methods of communication and travel. Feudal Europe was economically depressed and people could barley eke out a living on the land.
The Monastic Spur to Urban Growth
3. The monasteries had done a great service by preserving and passing on learning and by offering models of social organization and service. In mancy respects they enabled the West to pull through the Dark Ages, with some sense of order and tradition. Oddly enough, the monasteries, where rural and agricultural, provided the impetus for the growth of cities and towns, partly because of their innovative farming practices. The order calles the Cisterians, founded in 1098 as a reformed offshoot of the Beneditines, developed new agricultural techniques-- way of draining swamps and the use of crop rotation. Soon these methods were being employed all...